What is the difference between 面包 and 列巴? Dictionaries suggest both mean bread, but Google search seems to indicate that 面包 is any kind of baked flour (buns, bread, baguettes, croissants etc.), while 列巴 just means a regular (in the European sense) bread. Is that correct?

I am aware of this thread: How do I say "a loaf of bread"? but it doesn't fully answer my question.

  • 1
    "Russian bread" bkrs: 列巴 lièbā рус. хлеб zh.wikipedia.org/zh-cn/%E5%A4%A7%E5%88%97%E5%B7%B4 大列巴泛指所有的俄罗斯面包,其中“列巴”是俄语中面包(хлеб)的音译。
    – user6065
    Nov 6, 2016 at 10:34
  • Of course Russians must know the relation between "loaf" and хлеб. ( хлеб loanword from Germanic "hlaf")
    – user6065
    Nov 6, 2016 at 16:07
  • In that case it's just a Central and Eastern European type of bread, judging by pictures. Btw., I belive it's actually *xlěbъ, from Proto-Germanic *hlaibaz, a much older loan. Хлеб doesn't mean a loaf for centuries now, but the relation is there, indeed. Nov 7, 2016 at 15:45
  • 1
    see Vasmer's Etymologigal Dictionary: ORIGIN: Судя по интонации, следует говорить о заимствовании из герм., ср. гот. hlaifs "хлеб", др.-исл. hlėifr -- то же, что более вероятно, чем родство с последними;
    – user6065
    Nov 7, 2016 at 16:19
  • I stand corrected – I took a look into Derksen and it confirms what you cited. My entire life was a lie. Nov 7, 2016 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


In short 面包refers to bread(general) and 列巴refers to specifically Russian bread.

  • Does 面包 refer to confectionary products as well? Like donuts, pretzels etc.? Nov 7, 2016 at 15:46
  • answer duplicates comment #1, submitted much earlier
    – user6065
    Nov 7, 2016 at 16:32
  • Respectfully, I don't believe it does. While it clearly defines 列巴, 面包 being "just bread" is still in conflict with the images I see while googling – hence my need to narrow it down. My Chinese is still to low to understand the context of the results. Nov 7, 2016 at 16:50
  • 1
    in fact according to Wikipedia "Russian bread" is 大列巴, while 列巴 should be considered as merely transliteration of the Russian word, cf. bkrs: 列巴 lièbā рус. хлеб 大列巴 dàlièbā хлеб (заимствованное из русского)
    – user6065
    Nov 7, 2016 at 17:41

The ticked answer is correct.

However, it is one of those generalised terms subject to local custom. The actual word of 面包 is actually 麵包. 麵 means something made out of wheat. In general speaking , you may say 列巴 is a kind of 面包.

Historically, only northern China will generalised 列巴 as bread. Southern Chinese and all other Chinese literature have no idea about the Russia bread 列巴 (which the main ingredient is RYE, not wheat)

It is similar to US people in the past generalised facial tissues as Kleenex, photocopy as Xerox. But outside US, unless exposed to US custom and product, you can't use the generalised terms.

Unless you make a conversation with a person that stay in Northern China many years ago, otherwise, use 面包/ 麵包for bread/loaf.

  • Okay, this clarifies a bit — 谢谢 :) Nov 8, 2016 at 13:50

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